The Embarrassing Blouse

In which a blouse unearths some internal misogyny.

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I was excitedly impatient to make a new blouse, so I pulled out a light-weight voile with bright little flowers over a blue-gray background, that was originally purchased to make a camisole. A camisole nobody would see. 

The pattern, Aierelle, is from one of my favorite designers – Deer and Doe. Their patterns have a marvelous touch of whimsy and fit me really well. Recently, they added a “hack” to create short sleeves to the Airelle blouse and I knew I had to make it! So I pulled out the flowery voile and some solid pink voile I used to make my Mother a nightdress. Together, I had enough to craft a blouse that had a contrasting pink yoke with the brunt of the blouse being flowery.

Airelle is a relatively easy blouse to sew – the hardest part is gathering the sleeves to fit within the sleeve cuffs. I had a relaxing time of it and expected to be thoroughly pleased with the final product. And I was.

Until I tried it on.

Looking in the mirror at my flower-and-pink blouse with it’s little Peter Pan collar and gathered sleeves, I suddenly got really embarrassed. All I could think was, “it’s so…girly. How will anyone take me seriously in this?”. So I pulled it off, hung it in the closet and sulked to bed.

Just because something is generally deemed feminine or girly doesn’t mean it’s embarrassing. It’s such a crucial tenant of feminism – that being a woman, being femme, is OK.

Even knowing that, believing that, I felt self-conscious.

It’s strange how certain ideas creep so deeply into our minds, subverting what we believe, cutting the legs out from under independent thought.

So I wore it to work the next day. And guess what? I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. Once the blouse was on my body, once I started moving though my day, once I had filled it with my energy, I didn’t care that it was girly. I didn’t care that I’m NOT girly. I became one with the shirt. The shirt became one with me.

It’s difficult to shake the deeply seated notion that girly things are shameful. In the end, you have to wear what you like (and isn’t that what sewing is all about?). You have to assert your true being. For me, that’s a mix of the masculine and feminine. It’s wearing a pink-and-flowers blouse with confidence and pride. We can conquer our own insecurities -if only one blouse at a time.

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